The Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) has said that Nigerian exporters are not taking full advantage of opportunities offered by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
President of NACC, Chief Olabintan Famutimi, disclosed this at a Roundtable discussion while playing host to Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Commercial Service for Middle East and Africa, Seward Jones.
He said: “Nigeria is not taking full advantage of AGOA. There is lack of information and the culprits are usually the people in government. AGOA is a trade Act which is targeted at giving access to the United States market for 6,500 products from Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries.”
Famutimi noted that the AGOA Act was originally meant to cover October 2000 to September 2008, but it was extended to 2015.
On review, it was observed that some SSA countries such as Nigeria did not derive much benefit from it. AGOA was subsequently extended to 2025 to enable countries like Nigeria to make maximum benefits.
However, Nigeria’s major export to the US remains minerals.
According to him, Nigeria with a population of 182 million exported goods worth only $1.2 million to the US in 2014 whereas the more prepared South Africa, which is just 55 million, shipped products valued at $2.6 billion to the same market and within the same year.
“When you say AGOA, remove oil from it, because crude oil has always been taken to the US under AGOA. My argument over the years is, ‘don’t calculate crude oil under AGOA’,” Famutimi said, while accusing government of not providing the right environment for AGOA to thrive.
In his remark, Jones said US businesses were eager to do business in countries with good ease of doing business environment, transparency, and places where the Customs would not harass them unnecessarily.
“The average American believes that there are things going on in Nigeria. People have a wrong impression about Nigeria and this is what we need to overcome,” he stated.